The Author Wheel Podcast

Quick Tips to Stay in Character

May 23, 2024 The Author Wheel Season 5
Quick Tips to Stay in Character
The Author Wheel Podcast
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The Author Wheel Podcast
Quick Tips to Stay in Character
May 23, 2024 Season 5
The Author Wheel

Don't be a bunny. Avoid head hopping.  

We're tackling one of Megan's biggest pet peeves this week; head hopping, or changing character point of view without a visual transition in between.

It happens when authors switch from the internal monologue or emotions of one character into another character, within the same scene, without a scene break or chapter break to identify the new point of view.

Tip #1: Know your point of view

Tip #2: Put yourself in the head of the character. Only write what that character can see or feel.

If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider supporting the show. For a few dollars a month, you can help us cover the ongoing expenses—like hosting and editing—that are critical to the creation of this podcast. Plus, supporters will be thanked on each interview episode, so you'll get to hear your name on the air!

Click here to become a paid subscriber and support the show!

Another great way to support the show is to leave a five star review and share it with a writer friend. We don't advertise, so our growth is entirely dependent on word of mouth.

We appreciate your generous help!

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The Author Wheel:
Website: www.AuthorWheel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWheel

Greta Boris:
Website: www.GretaBoris.com
Facebook: @GretaBorisAuthor
Instagram: @GretaBoris

Megan Haskell:
Website: www.MeganHaskell.com
Facebook & Instagram: @MeganHaskellAuthor
TikTok: @AuthorMeganHaskell


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Don't be a bunny. Avoid head hopping.  

We're tackling one of Megan's biggest pet peeves this week; head hopping, or changing character point of view without a visual transition in between.

It happens when authors switch from the internal monologue or emotions of one character into another character, within the same scene, without a scene break or chapter break to identify the new point of view.

Tip #1: Know your point of view

Tip #2: Put yourself in the head of the character. Only write what that character can see or feel.

If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider supporting the show. For a few dollars a month, you can help us cover the ongoing expenses—like hosting and editing—that are critical to the creation of this podcast. Plus, supporters will be thanked on each interview episode, so you'll get to hear your name on the air!

Click here to become a paid subscriber and support the show!

Another great way to support the show is to leave a five star review and share it with a writer friend. We don't advertise, so our growth is entirely dependent on word of mouth.

We appreciate your generous help!

Follow Us!

The Author Wheel:
Website: www.AuthorWheel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWheel

Greta Boris:
Website: www.GretaBoris.com
Facebook: @GretaBorisAuthor
Instagram: @GretaBoris

Megan Haskell:
Website: www.MeganHaskell.com
Facebook & Instagram: @MeganHaskellAuthor
TikTok: @AuthorMeganHaskell


Support the Show.

FREE Mini Email Course

Have you ever struggled to explain to others exactly what you write? Or wondered which of the many fiction ideas running through your brain you should tackle? If so, The Author Wheel’s new mini-course might be your solution.

7 Days to Clarity: Uncover Your Author Purpose will help you uncover your core writing motivations, avoid shiny-thing syndrome, and create clear marketing language.

Each daily email will lead you step by step in defining your author brand, crafting a mission statement, and distilling that statement into a pithy tagline. And, best of all, it’s free.

Click here to learn more!



Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Author Wheel podcast. I'm Megan Haskell, award-winning fantasy author of the Senorita Chronicles and the Rise of Lilith series.

Speaker 2:

And I'm Greta Boris, usa Today bestselling author of the Mortician Murders and the soon-to-be-released Almost True Crime series. Together we are the Author Wheel. Our goal is to help you overcome your writing roadblocks so you can keep your stories rolling. Today we're gonna to cover another common problem for fiction writers head hopping. Can you define head hopping for us please, megan?

Speaker 1:

Yes, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. Just drives me bananas. But head hopping happens when an author jumps from one point of view character into another point of view character without a scene transition in between. So, especially when it's like the internal monologue, that's when it really becomes a problem, because your main point of view character cannot know what the other character is thinking unless they have telepathy, which okay the other character is thinking, unless they have telepathy, which okay. There are stories where that works, but most stories it does not.

Speaker 1:

Yes, no-transcript, two voices here, like what is going on, and it's hard to keep track of who you're actually experiencing as the reader. So it's disorienting right Now if you have a chapter break, a scene break or something that can be the differentiator. So I'm not saying you can't have multiple point of view characters Obviously that's not true. But it's when you're in that first person or close third person that you know you have to just be experiencing the world from that character, otherwise, at least for me this is why it's my pet thief I get immediately pulled out of the story If all of a sudden I'm not sitting with that character anymore and I'm in somebody else's head. It's like oh wait, what just happened? And I lose my place in the story, I lose that immersion.

Speaker 1:

So now there is another argument here too, that an omniscient narrator should be able to experience the thoughts and everything of all the characters. Right, they know everything about the world, they are God, so to speak. But my argument is that that's actually its own character. The omniscient narrator has its own voice and its own point of view that gets overlaid on top of all the other characters. So, while the omniscient narrator does know what all the characters are thinking, they're telling the story from their own point of view, and that should be clear from page one. So understanding what point of view you're writing from and mastering point of view and staying within those characters as appropriate, is really critical to meeting reader expectations and mastering that immersion of the reading experience.

Speaker 2:

You know it's interesting that I think this whole idea of head hopping and even omniscient narrators was much more popular a long time ago.

Speaker 2:

You know, it's not unusual 50, 60 years ago to read an old book and it's full of head hopping and or omniscient narration. But I think and I am just supposing this, so, listeners, if I am wrong, feel free to email Megan at authorwheelcom which will actually good for us. Um but uh, I think that some of the classics, the lasting stories, the reason we still love Pride and Prejudice, the reason we still love some of those older stories, is that they didn't do that a lot. We really were in that character's perspective.

Speaker 2:

So, that is my theory. I have not done research to test it out. Feel free to, like I said, email Megan if I'm wrong.

Speaker 1:

So well, but again, I think, with pride and prejudice, let's, let's take that as an example. So, by the way. So tip number one, the official tip number one, is know your point of view, but, um, with pride and prejudice, you know, I think it is an omniscient narrator. There is a narrator of that story, Um, and so you're sitting with Elizabeth Bennett, you know, but there's still a narrator right, and so that that was kind of the difference, like that, again, the narrator has their own point of view on the story, and but they're still following that main character.

Speaker 2:

So right, right. Yeah, I'm kind of doing that with the Almost True Crime series with my podcast host. She is kind of the narrator of the whole thing and she comes in and out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and in that case you've actually framed the story with the narrator as an actual visual or person character.

Speaker 2:

Right, with her own name and her own.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Everything, yeah yeah. So tip number two it's it's sort of an offshoot of tip number one, but it's sort of so we've told you know what POV you're in. But tip number two is how do I do that Right? So, yes, in theory I get it, guys, but how do I do that right? So, yes, in theory I get it guys, but how do I do that? It seems obvious, but, honestly, I know some fabulous writers, really really good writers, who still struggle with this.

Speaker 2:

And the tip is put yourself in the head of the character you're writing. When you're writing that character, I mean, you know you can just when you're writing that character, I mean you know you can just like you can only be one person at a time when you're imagining. You can only be one person at a time. And sometimes people struggle with this because they're always in their own author brain, in their own author head, and it's not you have to put yourself in that character's, in that character's, not, you have to put yourself in that character's, in that character's mind. So you are like them in that moment, like channeling them. So, in other words, you cannot write anything. They don't sense or feel or think. And it helps you know them better too as a character. So it's it's it's sort of specific.

Speaker 2:

It's like I was just in a critique group. We were just dealing with this with an excellent writer, and this writer did get it to the point where he wasn't saying anything. The character didn't see or know or couldn't know. But he also wasn't giving us any of the character's actual thoughts or emotions about what was happening. So that deepens the POV, like, if you can, I think having we've talked to a few actors on the podcast and they really don't struggle with this because that was their career.

Speaker 2:

Before they put themselves into a character, they become that character. Or before they put themselves into a character, they become that character. And as writers, we need to kind of apply a little bit of that acting. Put yourself into their mind and if you have more than one POV character per book, as Megan was saying in the first tip, have a clear delineation like make it a chapter break, make it a scene break and all that. But I would also add, put yourself in this new character's brain. They're going to look at life differently, just like when we talked about dialogue. They're going to speak differently, they're going to think differently, they're going to know different things. They're going to look at the world differently. Everybody has a unique worldview, including your characters, if you want them to feel real. So that is tip number two Put yourself in the head of the character that you are writing from.

Speaker 1:

Well, if you are enjoying this podcast, please consider supporting the show. At the bottom of each episode, show notes is a link that will take you to a subscriber page where you can donate as little as $3 a month to help us cover the ongoing expenses, like hosting and editing, that are critical to the creation of the podcast. So, in addition, not only will you feel awesome about supporting the show, we will actually advertise you, your book or your author service on the air, so we'll give you a little shout out at the beginning or intro of the next interview episode. Another way to support the show is to leave a five-star review and share your favorite episode with a writer friend. Help us spread the word so that we can keep on doing this thing, but until next time, keep your stories rolling.

Mastering Point of View in Writing
Supporting a Podcast